This Week: Meadowlands Pace, W.R. Haughton Memorial, Mistletoe Shalee, Memorial, Delvin Miller Memorial, Golden Girls and Miss Versatility, Meadowlands Racetrack, East Rutherford, N.J.; Maple Leaf Trot eliminations, Mohawk Racetrack, Campbellville, Ontario; Hanover events for 3-year-old colt pacers and 3-year-old filly pacers, Balmoral Park, Crete, Ill; and Sheppard eliminations, Yonkers Raceway, Yonkers, Yonkers, N.Y.
Schedule of events: The Grand Circuit schedule continues to be a busy one and this week the spotlight shines on several racetracks, beginning with the Meadowlands. The stakes heavy Saturday card features the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace for 3-year-olds, the $463,300 W.R. Haughton Memorial for free for all pacers, the $317,000 Memorial for 3-year-old male trotters, the $213,500 Delvin Miller Memorial for 3-year-old filly trotters, the $212,150 Mistletoe Shalee for 3-year-old filly pacers, the $178,450 Golden Girls for older pacing mares, and a $40,000 leg of the Miss Versatility for older trotting mares.
Saturday Grand Circuit action also includes the $40,000 (est.) Hanover Colt Stakes for 3-year-old colt pacers and the $40,000 (est.) Hanover Filly Stakes for 3-year-old filly pacers, both at Balmoral Park, and two $25,000 eliminations at Yonkers in the Lawrence B. Sheppard for 2-year-old colt pacers.
Grand Circuit racing for the week begins on Friday (July 11) at Mohawk Racetrack with two C$40,000 eliminations in the Maple Leaf Trot for free for all trotters.
Last time: had an incredible performance during last weekend's Grand Circuit action. He posted 145 training points, 125 driving points and 55.1 owner points, thanks to his success in Landmark Stakes events at Historic Track. Schnittker trained, drove and shared ownership in six of the nine Landmark winners from the Friday (July 4) card in Goshen.
Among the winners was 3-year-old male pacer Stevensville, who could be heading to the $450,000 Delvin Miller Adios at the end of the month.
Stevensville (-Wild West Show), who was coming off a fifth-place finish in the Max C. Hempt Memorial on June 28 at Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs, won the $19,340 Landmark Stakes for 3-year-old pacers in 1:58.1 over a sloppy track. Owned by Schnittker, Paul Bordogna, and Ryan Miller, Stevensville has won seven of 21 career races and $185,079. He finished second in last year's Matron Stakes.
Other winners for Schnittker, who is based at Historic Track, were 2-year-old male trotter Gabe The Bear Dean, 2-year-old female pacer Shes Ready To Rock, 3-year-old female trotter Suegrabbitnrun, 3-year-old male trotter Derby, and 2-year-old female trotter Kaliska.
The Saturday (July 5) Grand Circuit feature at Meadowlands Racetrack was the inaugural $484,850 Hambletonian Maturity for 4-year-old trotters, going 1-1/8 miles with no Lasix permitted. It drew an overflow field of 14, including defending Horse of the Year Bee A Magician, who had the misfortune to draw unlucky post 13.
Your So Vain pulled a 7-1 upset, benefitting from a bold drive by trainer who gunned to the front with a three-wide move on the backstretch and prevailed by 2-3/4 lengths. It was a terrific display by a horse that had not raced since November, and was debuting for the Svanstedt barn. The time was 2:05.3 as Your So Vain paid $16.60 to win. Bee A Magician, jammed up in traffic and shuffled far back in the early stages, kicked in strongly to get second over Flanagan Memory.
JK Endofanera will be the 2-1 favorite for the $776,000 Meadowlands Pace final with He's Watching a close 5-2 second choice. The two standout colts won their $50,000 Pace eliminations on July 5, setting the stage for a classic showdown on July 12.
JK Endofanera won the first elimination in a career-best 1:48.2 at the end of a surprisingly tight finish for the 2-5 favorite. Having fended off Doo Wop Hanover rounding the final turn, JK Endofanera found stretch challengers to his left as Lyonssomewhere tried to squeeze up the pylons while to his right, Always B Miki came charging down the center of the track. JK Endofanera dug in to hold off Always B Miki by a neck with Lyonssomewhere getting third. handled the 3 Brothers homebred trained by .
He's Watching won the faster elimination in 1:48.1, also a lifetime best. Last year's Dan Patch Award champion following an eight for eight campaign, He's Watching has come back strong this season with two wins in five starts for Menary Racing, Brad Gray, Michael Guerriero and the Muscara Racing Trust. Despite starting from post nine, driver maneuvered He's Watching into a perfect second-over trip. They roared through the lane to reel in 17-1 longshot Sometimes Said by 2-3/4 lengths. Luck Be Withyou was third.
Complete recaps of the weekend races are available at the Grand Circuit website.
Grand Circuit Standings: In 2014, the Grand Circuit leaders in three categories (driver, trainer and owner) will once again be tracked on a points system (20-10-5 for the top three finishers in divisions/finals and 10-5-2 for the top three finishers in eliminations/legs). Winbak Farms is the sponsor for the 2014 Grand Circuit awards.
Here are the leaders following the past weekend.
Looking ahead: Grand Circuit action will be taking place next weekend at Mohawk Racetrack, Yonkers Raceway, Northfield Park, The Meadowlands and The Meadows. Mohawk will race the Maple Leaf Trot; Yonkers Raceway will offer the Sheppard final; Northfield will contest the Battle of Lake Erie; The Meadowlands will have W.N. Reynolds Memorial races for 3-year-old colt and filly trotters; and The Meadows will have eliminations for the Adios.
by Paul Ramlow, for the Grand CIrcuit